Skip to comments.1565: Malta celebrates the historically important victory of the Great Siege
Posted on 09/03/2009 6:17:37 AM PDT by Nikas777
Desmond Zammit Marmarà
Thursday, 3rd September 2009
As Malta celebrates the historically important victory of the Great Siege of 1565, it is worthwhile to ponder on some important points usually overshadowed by the purely military aspect of the Great Siege.
The events of 1565 took place against a background of the clash between the Christian and the Islamic religions as well as the contemporary dissonance between Western and Eastern cultures. Few people, however, are aware that commerce played a very important part in the Turkish decision to attack Malta.
Attacks on Turkish shipping by ships flying the flag of the Order of St John of Jerusalem had become such a pain in the neck for the Turks that Sultan Suleiman I, known as the Magnificent, decided to wipe out the Knights once and for all, regretting that he had spared them after their defeat at the Siege of Rhodes in 1522.
The Knights of St John were, in fact, disrupting commerce in the Mediterranean basin and even the Venetians, albeit being Christians, were highly irritated by the activities of the Knights which hindered their commercial activities in the East. So much so that the renowned historian Fernand Braudel writes in his The Mediterranean And The Mediterranean World In The Age Of Philip II (London : Fontana Press, 1987) : After all, the Venetians had rejoiced when they heard of the fall of St. Elmo. As good honest traders, they considered the Knights of St. John the fly in the ointment of East-West commercial relations and never failed to tell the Turks what was afoot in the West (Volume II, p. 1022).
One cannot help comparing the situation in the Mediterranean in 1565 with that in Europe and other continents today. While European countries have long realized that their best interests, including commercial ones, lie in unity, the spectre of holy wars against the infidel still haunts them, even in 2009.
Today, Malta is a European Union member while Turkey has applied to join the EU. The wars and battles between the cross and the crescent in Europe are only historical memories. However, in other parts of the world, they are still very much alive, albeit in different forms. The global culture clash between East and West persists and commercial interests still lurk in the background. Terrorism and the events in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, etc. are poignant illustrations of this phenomenon.
Coming back to the victory of 1565 in Malta, it is also worthwhile mentioning the often overlooked fact that the merit for such an achievement belongs first and foremost to the Maltese population of the time. Perhaps, few people realize that the majority of the defenders were Maltese and that the Knights of St. John and other foreign soldiers assisting them were fewer in number.
Much of the credit for the victory of 1565 has been attributed by historians to the superb leadership of Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette and the inimitable fighting abilities of his Knights. The great efforts made by the ordinary Maltese defenders have been largely obscured. It is, therefore, appropriate to point out that had it not been for the total support of the Maltese during the whole course of the Great Siege, the efforts of the Knights would have been all in vain. Maltese heroes deserve to be remembered with pride. Maltese like the swimmer Toni Bajjada, the cavalryman Luqa Briffa, the engineer and architect Gerolamo Cassar, just to name a few. Then, of course, there were the thousands of nameless women who are the sometimes forgotten heroes of the Great Siege. Through their daily efforts they provided support for the men on the ramparts so that these could conserve their strength for the fighting proper.
The concept of womens emancipation was unheard of at the time of the Great Siege but these Maltese women of 1565 provided an early example of burden-sharing between the different sexes. Credit for the Great Siege victory belongs to the women as much as it belongs to the men. To conclude, the victory of 1565 still has great relevance today. It was a victory of the Maltese people which protected several values which they hold dear even today : freedom from oppression, respect for their religion, love of their country.
Europe has come so close (on many occasions) on being over run by islam. Rome was even attacked by islamic armies.
The Venetians paid for their indifference on Malta 10 years later, when the Turks attacked and took Cyprus, Venice’s main trading possession in the Meditteranean. Turkey held Cyprus until 1878.
The Turks retook parts of Cyrus.
It was September 11, 1565 when relief army of Viceroy of Sicily and Knights of Malta defeated the Turks and forced them to evacuate Malta
It was September 11, 1683 when relief forces under King of
Poland Jan Sobieski arrived in Vienna Woods outside city of
Vienna to confront Turkish army besieging city.
It was September 11, 1697 when Austrian army under Eugene of
Savoy routted Turkish army near Serbian city of Zenta
It was September 11, 2001 when passengers on United Flight 93 rose up to confront hijackers
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo · Google ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.